Whit Johnson’s DNA Test Uncovered Surprising Secrets That Altered His Family’s Life
The father of well-known TV anchor and journalist Whit Johnson was adopted at birth. However, Johnson’s father didn’t have any desire to learn more about his own heritage. He preferred to keep that door shut.
Whit Johnson wanted to peek inside, however, so he took a DNA test that led to results that baffled both of them. In the end, it led to a better understanding of where they came from.
Educated in San Francisco
The ABC anchor Whit Johnson grew up in San Francisco, the tech capital of the world. After graduating from a local high school, he decided to go to San Francisco State University. With a growing interest in broadcasting, he enrolled in a bachelor’s program for Television and Radio Broadcasting.
Upon graduation, he decided to expand his horizons beyond San Francisco. Although it’s a great city with plenty happening, for those interested in politics, Washington D.C. is the place to be. So, Johnson moved there.
In 2018, His ABC Career Began
In the early part of 2018, Johnson joined ABC as a correspondent. A few months later, he became a co-anchor on Good Morning America. Over the next few years, he covered news about the pandemic, the election, and other topics of national interest.
In 2021, another big break came. ABC announced that Whit Johnson would replace Tom Llamas as the anchor of ABC World News Tonight. Both shows are held on the weekend, and Johnson is a popular host among regular viewers.
Whit Loves His Family
Whit Johnson is big on family. In 2007, many years before his big break with ABC, Johnson met and married the reporter Andrea Fujji. Nowadays, Whit, Andrea, and their two young daughters (Leah and Summer) all live in New York City.
Alongside being an anchor, Whit Johnson is also big on social media. If you follow his posts online, then it’s easy to see how important family is to him. The 39-year-old anchor regularly posts photos of his big happy family – wife, daughters, and of course, their lovely little puppy!
Not Taking Family for Granted
As is evident from his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts, Whit Johnson loves being a news anchor and loves being a husband and father. He mixes together his two loves when he cheekily calls his wife and daughters his “boss ladies.”
Alongside personal photos, Johnson also posts a lot of inspirational pieces. For example, he wrote that the year 2020 really taught him the importance of not taking your family for granted. For Whit, part of this “not taking for granted” meant learning more about his father.
Like Father, Like Son
When Whit Johnson was growing up, he and his father had a great relationship. In fact, Whit said that he can trace most of what he knows about being a good father back to the way his father treated him.
During a Father’s Day Instagram post, he made this abundantly clear to his 50 thousand followers – “Happy Father’s Day to the man who taught me what it means to be a dad.” That being said, he still had some unanswered questions for his dad, Steve.
Unlike the Son, the Father Doesn’t Want a DNA Test
Although Whit’s social media posts made it clear that he had tremendous love and respect for his dad – “a man with many names and many mustache variations” – he was still curious about Steve, his dad’s, bloodline.
Whit wanted to know who Steve’s biological parents were. Furthermore, he wanted to understand Steve’s ethnic and cultural roots. Whit’s mother shared the same desire even though she and Steve had broken up long ago. Steve, however, didn’t share the same interest. He was perfectly content only talking and thinking about his adopted parents.
Whit’s Mom Did a DNA Test
Whit Johnson’s parents divorced when he was young. Although his dad didn’t really care to learn more about his own ethnic background, Whit’s mom did. One day, while Whit was visiting his mom, she pulled out a 23andMe DNA test. It was for Whit.
She had already taken one and found out that she’s Caucasian/European. However, she wanted to know more about Whit’s background on his father’s side. This gentle nudging by his mom led Whit to develop a deeper interest.
Steve Didn’t Want to Take the Test
When Whit’s mom originally suggested taking a DNA test while they were catching up around the kitchen table, Whit really didn’t see the point. However, over time, he got a bit more intrigued. All he really knew about his dad’s adoption was that it happened at a young age in Salt Lake City.
The year was 1950. That’s basically the extent of what they knew. Steve felt that learning more might offend his adoptive parents, so he had no desire to dig up potentially troubling facts.
His Mom Got a Sample
Since Steve was stuck in his decision not to take the test, the only way to learn more was to have Whit or his siblings take the test. Although Whit respected his father’s decision, he also had a burning curiosity to know more.
However, he was a bit reluctant. Luckily, Whit’s wife and mom hatched a plan to get around that. It was a simple plan. Whit’s mom walked up to him, handed him a DNA test tube, and said to spit in it. He did.
A Simple Procedure
Although learning more about your family background can be a big deal, the process of getting there is fairly simple and straightforward. For Whit, all he had to do was give a saliva sample to 23andMe. Then, he filled out an online profile with a few brief details.
After that, they sent off the vial to the company address and forgot about it. The lab took about a month or so to analyze the sample, collect the results, and send what they found back to Whit and his family.
The Results Come In
One month later, Whit Johnson opened his email account to find something odd in his inbox: “We have your results.” 23andMe got back to him. Excitement rushed through his body as he clicked to open it.
Shortly after opening, he found out that his ethnic background wasn’t as simple as he once thought. Alongside the Western European heritage he was well aware of (British, Irish, and Scottish), he also found that he had some Basque Spanish and a small amount of Native American ancestry.
A New Opportunity Arises
It was exciting for Whit to learn that his bloodline was more complex than he initially thought. However, that wasn’t all he learned. When 23andMe sent back the results, they also started the process of getting distant relatives to get in touch with each other.
That blew his mind. Whit had never seriously considered meeting up with potential aunts, uncles, grandparents, and distant relatives. However, once the thought was placed in his mind, he scrolled through the website to learn more.
Lots of Spanish relatives
When Whit combed through the website, he found a tab that read “Your DNA Relatives.” With something as tempting as that, obviously, he clicked. Suddenly, a huge list of relatives popped up. Most of them had Spanish names.
With a family name like “Johnson,” Whit didn’t expect to have so many Spanish relatives. However, “Johnson” was merely the last name his father Steve was given way back in 1950 when he was first adopted. That wasn’t the family name of his biological parents at all.
A New First Cousin
Before getting far into your search for genetic relatives, the site 23andMe gives a clear warning to try and brace people for the unexpected. For many, the information is life-changing. For Whit, a hint of that came when he found that a “first cousin” was listed.
It was an odd thing to find out because his mom’s siblings were childless. That means that the cousin must have been on Steve’s side of the family. However, Steve was an only child… or so he thought.
A Stunning Discovery
Whit scrolled through his profile and opened up the page for his (potential) first cousin. When the picture loaded, he was absolutely stunned. He took a deep breath and looked closer. The “potential first cousin” looked exactly like his own father!
As you can see from the comparison photo above, the similarities between this “potential first cousin” and Whit’s actual father are hard to deny. Whit came to the only conclusion that was natural: the man on the left had to be the brother of the man on the right.
How to Break the News
This new discovery was a complete bombshell for Whit Johnson. After nearly 40 years of Whit knowing Steve, the son now felt like he was seeing his dad for the first time. That’s because he knew next to nothing about his biological family.
With such a big discovery, Whit was understandably concerned about how he would break the news to his dad. Was it good to try and work it into a casual conversation, or would it be better to come right out and say it?
Weighing the Possibilities
This is a family revelation here, Whit thought to himself. Furthermore, he knew that it was going to change their entire family dynamic. There was no turning back from that. The next question was to figure out if he should reach out to this new cousin first, or break the news to his dad first.
The usually calm and composed ABC anchor felt a bit nervous as he ran through possibilities in his head. Would this new knowledge ruin the father-son dynamic he’d come to cherish over the years?
Curiosity Creeps In
Steve wasn’t uninterested in his biological parents. Instead, he was concerned that his adoptive parents might feel bad about him wanting to know more about where he came from. Steve loved his parents dearly and didn’t want to (potentially) upset them.
Over the years, however, Steve’s adoptive mom and dad passed away. This was a tremendous loss that was hard to come to grips with. That being said, the fact that they weren’t around also meant that Steve couldn’t risk offending them. So, curiosity about his biological parents grew.
Steve Gets Interested
All the worrying and fretting about whether or not Steve would get annoyed with Whit for letting him know he had a brother was in vain. It turned out that Steve was already doing a bit of his own DNA research.
Around this time, Whit began chatting with his stepmom about the results he found from the DNA test. He told her that he was “kind of freaking out.” He told her that he found someone who was“VERY RELATED TO DAD.”
Whit Talks to His Stepmom
Naturally, Whit’s stepmom was curious. So, they chatted back and forth. Whit told her that the man in the photo was born in Utah in 1956. When he said this, he knew that Steve was nearby, so he expected his stepmom to break the news to him. She did. Steve was excited.
Steve wanted to know much more about this mysterious stranger who looked just like him, shared his DNA, and was only six years younger. While waiting for his dad’s reply, Whit was learning more as well.
Steve Calls Back
Whit assumed his dad would reply to him when he was ready. In the meantime, Whit reached out to the guy on the 23andMe website. Despite searching online for many years, the man apparently had no luck finding close relatives.
This was a bit odd for Whit to hear. For him, all it took was one DNA test, and voila – a new relative was found! Regardless, they were happy they found each other, and both started asking questions. Then, Steve called back.
Tears Keep Flowing
Whit picked up the phone and gave him the news. Steve broke out in tears. He never thought he had a biological brother. Now, it was highly likely. Not only that, but Steve could also get the chance to communicate with or meet his unknown brother.
The fact that his birthday was in two days only added to the magic of the moment. Whit shared in the excitement as well, and both father and son were overjoyed. The tears kept flowing.
The Brothers Chat Online
It was a remarkable day for Steve. At the beginning of the day, he thought he was an only child. By the end of the day, however, he knew that he had a brother out there in the world. Steve and his brother emailed back and forth to learn more about each other.
The next step, of course, was to take it offline and into the real world. It was time for Steve to meet up with his new brother and Whit to meet his new uncle.
Learning How They’re Similar
Although they had never met, Steve felt an immediate connection with the man who was most likely his biological brother – a man named Bear. They continued emailing back and forth, getting to know each other more by probing into their similarities.
It was an emotional time for both. Steve, a man who rarely thought about his biological family, was suddenly learning a lot more about his origins. So was Bear. Furthermore, Bear was learning more about the guy he used to see on TV all the time.
Utah TV Anchor
That’s right, Whit’s potential new uncle and Steve’s potential new brother recognized Whit from the news. Before Whit was hired at ABC, he used to be a reporter and anchor in Salt Lake City. Since Bear lived in Utah, he saw Whit all the time.
However, the entire time he was watching Whit deliver news, he had no idea that he was actually his nephew! Putting all those pieces together was mind blowing. With that odd tidbit in mind, Steve and Whit booked a trip to visit Bear in Utah.
Another Bombshell Discovery
After that trip, the surprises kept piling up. Whit learned that he had a first cousin, and that cousin came all the way to California to visit Whit, his wife, and his kids. After an emotional first meeting, they relaxed a bit and shared some family research.
That led to another bombshell surprise. It turned out that Bear and Steve had another sibling. Steve was able to find him and send a letter. All they knew was that he lived in Wyoming.
The Third Brother’s Story
The third brother replied. Quickly, Steve and Bear learned that their other brother was also given up for adoption. Not only that, but they also learned that he was interested in knowing more about his biological family. In addition, he had much to teach them.
The brother in Wyoming was raised by his biological grandparents. His mother – who was Steve and Bear’s mom as well – sort of drifted in and out of his life. So, he knew who she was, and even had some photos.
A Visitor From Wyoming
Shortly after they connected online, the third brother was keen to meet. So, he hopped on a plane in Wyoming and flew to California. Alongside his luggage, he carried a bunch of family photos. He knew the most about their mother, so Steve and Bear were excited to hear what he had to say.
As you can see from above, it was a very emotional first meeting. Whit described his father as being filled with waves of emotion ever since the journey began.
Yet Another Twist
Although the story so far has as many twists and turns as a winding mountain road, that’s not the end of it. The Wyoming brother informed Steve and Bear that they also had a sister! Their biological mom had three boys and one girl.
Naturally, all three of them began researching this mysterious sister. They looked into public records and DNA documents with the hopes of locating, communicating, and meeting up with her. Unfortunately, they haven’t found much so far. She still remains a mystery.
Instagram Follower Reaches Out
As this entire story was unfolding in their private lives, it was also taking on a life of its own on social media. As a popular TV anchor, Whit has quite the following, and he kept them in the loop on his father’s discoveries.
One day, a woman on Instagram named Catherine Borbridge reached out to Whit to say that she knew his parents from long ago. They began chatting back and forth, and she added some interesting facts to the already fascinating tale.
The Search Continues
Whit’s original DNA test showed that he had a mix of Irish and Spanish heritage. Neither of those came from his mom. However, when he looked at the photos of his biological grandmother, he could see she was probably Spanish. That means his biological grandfather – Steve’s dad – must have been the Irish one.
This narrowed down the search a bit, but it didn’t lead to any simple answers. Regardless, the search so far has been highly beneficial to Steve. He knows a lot more about his heritage.
Whit has a little sister named Dana. Unlike Whit, she’s not a fan of cameras and prefers to live a simple, family life. Regardless, she enjoys visiting him in NYC every now and again. One time while strolling through a park, Whit captured a great photo of them.
For the caption, he wrote that his little sister looked nothing like him. Most of his followers, however, disagreed. “She looks exactly like you!” one fan wrote. Another said, “you’re just as pretty when you’re a lady Whit.”
Like Mother, Like Son
After staring at his mother’s photo, Steve came to appreciate that his looks came from her. When he compared his senior high school portrait with the photo he had of his biological mom, the similarities were uncanny. In particular, he noticed that both had raised eyebrows.
It’s remarkable how DNA passes genetic information down from generation to generation. In the end, complete strangers can end up looking exactly alike. As he looked over the pictures again, Steve really wanted to know more about his dad.
Whit and Mom Are Close
As followers of Whit’s social media accounts know, he has always been (and continues to be) close to his mom. Alongside being an “extraordinary woman” full of love and happiness, she was also the one who got the ball rolling on the DNA tests.
Whatever the reason – whether she knew something, suspected something, or was simply curious – it’s great that she encouraged Whit (and Steve) into learning more about their family heritage. Sadly, Whit isn’t able to see her as much as he’d like.
Whit has been lucky to be surrounded by such loving, caring, and strong women all throughout his life. He has three “mothers” really. His biological mom is Sharon, his stepmom is Leslie, and the mother of his kids is Andrea.
For Mother’s Day, he paid tribute to all three mothers in a beautiful social media post. He wrote that Sharon was “the definition of unconditional love” and Leslie was an “endlessly committed parent.” For Andrea, he wrote that she was a “true Earth angel.”
A Family Man Who Loves Dogs
As you can see from the story above, Whit is not only a great TV anchor – he’s also a great family man. That means being there for his wife or kids as well as helping his dad find his long-lost biological brothers. He’s a man full of love, and that love extends to animals as well.
In particular, to cute little dogs. Although his family also has a few dogs, he’s also started fostering dogs (like the cute pups above) to get them ready for long-term adoption.
The pandemic affected nearly everyone on the planet, and Steve and Whit were no different. Although Steve just met his biological brothers, the ensuing travel restrictions made it impossible for them to meet face-to-face. Email and video chats had to suffice.
For Whit, the pandemic meant working from a spare room in his home rather than at the ABC studios. He jokingly called it “Studio WJ!” and gave viewers a sneak peek at his DIY setup – basically a ladder and some shoeboxes.
Whit the Teacher/Anchor
When he wasn’t filming weekend segments for Good Morning America, Whit was homeschooling his two daughters. During those moments, Whit’s wife Andrea was filming segments of her own because she’s also a news reporter. It’s a perfect situation, really.
Both understand the demands of the job. When one’s working, the other can take care of the kids and vice versa. Plus, they use the same equipment, so they can share “studio” space. On her Instagram page, Andrea said she was grateful for Whit being her “pinch hitter home school teacher.“
The lockdowns made it impossible for Whit and his family to fly out to see his father. However, that doesn’t mean they didn’t stay in touch. Like so many others, they held regular family meetings over Zoom. Alongside simple catch-ups, they also dyed Easter eggs together!
They also, of course, talked about any new information they found about Steve’s biological family. Those Zoom gatherings were ok, but they were far from perfect. After a year or so of isolation, Whit’s family was excited to meet up face to face.
The Genes That Bind Us
In addition to missing out on face-to-face contact, Whit contracted a Covid strain and his house was flooded by a natural disaster. In other words, it was a rough year. Once the worst of it was over, however, Whit’s family, his sister’s family, and his parents all made plans to meet up more often.
It’s remarkable how a simple DNA test can lead to so many changes. Now Steve knows that he’s one of four rather than a single child, and Whit has two new uncles!